Packing a healthy and delicious lunch that your kids will eat can be a challenge. Even parents with years of lunch-packing success can fall into a rut. There is nothing sadder for your child than opening a lunch box full of disappointment, packed with foods she does not like. Here are some fresh ideas for creating a fun and flavorful lunch your kids will love!
Follow the Plan:
Lunch is the perfect opportunity to include a variety of foods. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that each day school-aged kids eat: 4 ½-5 ½ serves of veggies and beans, 1 ½-2 serves of fruit, 4-7 serves of grain foods, 1 ½-2 ½ serves of lean protein, and 2-3 ½ serves of dairy
- Fruits and veggies provide a wide variety of vital nutrients. Avoid packing canned or processed fruits and veggies, sugary fruit leathers, and fruit snacks. Instead, include dried fruits, fresh fruit slices or fresh veggie sticks.
- Grain foods provide the energy your kids need to make it through the school day. Choose whole grain or high-fiber breads, brown rice, or pasta.
- Protein helps your kids grow and keeps them full throughout the day. Try lean meats, canned tuna, or nuts.
- Dairy foods build strong bones and teeth. Pack cheese, yoghurt or milk that are low in fat.
Build a Better Sandwich:
A yummy sandwich is often the foundation of a great school lunch!
- Build the sandwich on your child’s favorite whole grain or high-fiber bread.
- Choose a filling like low-fat cheese, sliced lean meat, hummus, tuna salad, or egg salad.
- Avoid turning the sandwich into a mushy mess. Use mayonnaise, margarine, slices of cheese or cream cheese as a barrier to protect the bread from a moist filling. Put wet ingredients, like tomato or pickles, in the middle of the sandwich. Then surround them with other ingredients like meat or cheese.
- To keep the sandwich fresh, pack it in a zip-top bag or plastic wrap.
Switch It Up:
Not every school lunch needs a sandwich. Take a break and pack:
- A green salad topped with meat, cheese, or nuts. To keep the salad greens crisp, put salsa or a low-fat dressing in the bottom of the salad container, then layer on salad greens, veggies, and other toppings.
- Rice and beans
- Pasta salad topped with cubed lean meat or low-fat cheese
- Crackers and cheese, a natural nut butter, or hummus
- A wrap filled with sliced meat and cheese or chicken salad
- Leftovers from last night’s dinner like chicken nuggets or veggie lasagna.
Swap the Sides:
Potato chips, corn chips, and cookies are fun foods to pack every once in a while. For everyday sides, try:
- Veggie sticks or fruit slices with low-fat dip
- Whole grain crackers
- Dry cereal
- Rice cakes
- A tub of yoghurt
A healthy lunch is a cool lunch. Use your freezer to ensure that your kid’s lunch stays at a safe temperature. By lunch time, everything will be thawed and ready to eat.
- Stash a frozen gel pack in the lunch box.
- Use frozen bread to make a sandwich.
- Freeze an entire tuna salad or chicken salad sandwich
- Drinks like water or milk can also be frozen and packed.
Quench Their Thirst:
Make sure your children stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Always pack a bottle of water.
- Avoid juices or soda. They are full of sugar, not nutrients.
One Final Tip:
- Only pack foods your kids like. Lunch at school is not the time to experiment or encourage them to try new foods.
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